Flushing businesses focus on disaster plans after fire

By Stephen Stirling

Several business owners and community leaders attended the first of a series of seminars last Thursday hosted by the Flushing Business Improvement District aimed toward bolstering emergency preparedness after a fire destroyed two downtown buildings last year.

Representatives from a laundry list of city agencies were at the meeting, which gave business owners step−by−step instructions on how to protect themselves in the event a disaster befalls their enterprise.

“We lost two whole buildings in one shot last October,” said Mabel Law, the Flushing BID executive director. “Many of our local businesses lost their entire livelihoods and there are a lot of questions these business owners were asking as a result.”

More than a half dozen businesses were destroyed or sustained serious fire and water damage as a result of the Oct. 29 fire. Two salons, a psychic reader’s office, a Payless Shoe Source, a Taco Bell, a Pizza Hut and an apartment were destroyed in the blaze. The fire also caused problems at the nearby No. 7 subway station, although the station sustained no serious damage.

Following the fire, Law said she was determined to educate business owners because many of those affected by the fire continue to struggle, mainly due to a lack of insurance or important documents lost in the blaze.

“I’ve never seen that amount of services converge to help a group of businesses. I don’t know what the Flushing BID would do without Mabel,” said Bernadette Nation, director of Business Outreach Team at the city Department of Small Business Services, before giving a presentation.

Nation told business owners that surviving any kind of disaster at a small business starts with insurance, which many of the businesses damaged by the fire lacked.

“That is the fund that will help you get back on your feet and help you replace the items you’ve lost,” she said.

The seminar was held at the LaGuardia Sheraton East Hotel in Flushing and featured representatives from the NYPD, FDNY, Office of Emergency Management, Department of Environmental Protection, Department of Buildings and Economic Development Corp.

For more information about Thursday’s seminar or about future seminars, call the Flushing BID at 718−888−1805.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e−mail at sstirling@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 138.

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